The Bolifamba Plight: The challenges of young girls growing up in the slums

Ruth Ngoni
Posted November 29, 2020 from Cameroon
Teenage pregnancy in sub Saharan African slums
Photo credit: Paolo Patruno - Global Citizen

  Growing up in a community where basic amenities are unavailable is hard. The youths and the old alike defecate in the very same rivers in which others bathe and wash clothes because they live in houses that do not have toilet facilities. A situation of overcrowded homes and houses constructed without toilet facilities and kitchens can be seen. This is the plight of the poorest class of persons living in Bolifamba. 

Bolifamba is a small community in the outskirts of Buea, in the Southwest region of Cameroon. It is a multi-cultural area with people coming from different parts of the country.

This poor community is one of the major slums found in the Buea municipality, with dilapidated houses and little access to basic amenities. 

Health reports reveal the prevalence of water-borne diseases among persons living in this community, such as typhoid and dysentery as well as sexually transmitted diseases. 

Despite efforts put in place to sensitize the community on proper hygiene, a talk with some young persons revealed that some of the inhabitants feel helpless about the situation. They live in houses constructed without toilets and do not have the funds to afford better homes.

Young girls growing up under such conditions do not have the luxury of privacy and end up being victims of rape and promiscuous behaviors. About one in every eight young girls in this community is a mother as a result of an unplanned pregnancy.

In fact, in Buea, Bolifamba is one community well known for a high level of promiscuity among the youths and the prevalence of teenage pregnancies. Most of the youths here have either primary or no formal education, and a low knowledge of sexual hygiene and birth control. 

It is unimaginable just how the lack of appropriate toilet facilities and poverty have affected this community.

A discussion with a teenage mother revealed that having an unplanned pregnancy resulted in drop out from school.  The father of her child, who is below 18 years old, together with her, need to engage in petty trading to cater to the needs of their child. Desperation resulting from poverty further pushes single mothers into prostitution. 

Such communities can be assisted by engaging in community projects that meet their need for basic amenities, like the creation of toilet facilities, to improve their standard of living and vocational training for income creation.

Comments 7

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leila Kigha
Nov 30, 2020
Nov 30, 2020

Such a sad and awful situation. Our young girls have a right to a better life. Living in an environment that impedes development has dire consequences. Thank You for sharing this need with us Ruth and welcome to World pulse!
We hope to hear more from you about your journey and projects.

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 30, 2020
Nov 30, 2020

Hello Ruth,
A big welcome to World Pulse. We are here to work together and your story documents what must be a priority: addressing poverty and the reality that the people of Bolifamba are living. It is heartbreaking to once again see the extra violence that young girls face due to the lack of this basic and essential need, the privacy and safety of a toilet. Addressing poverty must remain a priority.
In sisterhood,
Tam

jomarieb.earth
Nov 30, 2020
Nov 30, 2020

Dear Ruth,
We take so much for granted. The plight of women and children are at the mercy of the simplest things. So many of us know nothing about these stories. I may be speaking out of line, but this comes to my mind ...Pick some celebrities and send this letter (not an email) to them, and their organizations/ projects. Reachout to the ones who are known to help Africa. Sorry but I feel compelled to share that. Help is needed. Something must be done. Easier said than done. But your story is powerful.
I found this link. Perhaps there is a way for you to contact someone and reach out...
https://theirworld.org/voices/cameroon-community-builds-safe-school-toil...
Hugs...JoMarie

Nini Mappo
Dec 01, 2020
Dec 01, 2020

Hello Ruth,
Welcome to World Pulse. This is such a sad situation, and not too far from the situation in my city of Nairobi. Tackling urban poverty though a complex undertaking should be prioritized because of how much poverty breeds poverty as in the story you share and in most slums.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 03, 2020
Dec 03, 2020

Hello, Ruth,

Welcome to World Pulse! I'm happy that a new voice from Cameroon is rising up.

When I read your story, it brings me back to a community of what we call Badjaos in our country. I visited that place and see what the situation of not having toilets is like. They go to the beach defecate there, but that is also the place they fish for food. Sad and heartbreaking reality.

The situation of a community like what you posted aggravates a lot of issues, health, unwanted pregnancies, school dropouts, and so much more. Thank you for raising your voice and for caring. I do hope there will be interventions in place to help these communities because they all have a right to access quality living.

Welcome again to our growing sisterhood!

Adanna
Dec 04, 2020
Dec 04, 2020

Dear Ruth,

Warm welcome to World Pulse! We are happy to have you here.

Indeed, growing up in a community where basic amenities are unavailable is hard. It is really sad to watch young girls drop out from school as a result of unplanned pregnancies.

If there is anyway online training can help especially on digital skills training, please I would love to help.

Love,
Adanna

Adriana Greenblatt
Dec 06, 2020
Dec 06, 2020

Hello Ruth, welcome to World Pulse and congratulations on your first story! Thank you for sharing the situation in Bolifamba that I did not know before. You paint such a vivid picture and so poignant to understand the deep impacts of things some of us take for granted: access to privacy, toilets, and indeed the right kind of information to empower girls to know their bodies. I learn so much from others about Cameroon on here, and I join Karen in welcoming another strong voice from this country. I thank you for sharing this pain, I feel it with you now, and your voice is a power, know this and I know we will be hearing much more from you Ruth.

Big cheers from Montreal, Canada,
Adriana